The Annual Award of the Estonian Association of Landscape Architects 2023
Ehitajate tee 150/Paldiski mnt 145, Tallinn
Landscape architecture
Eneli Niinepuu Jaan Mettik (Sala Terrena)
Ragne Sauman (ConArte)
Architectural consultation
Riin Kersalu (Kersalu projektbüroo)
Commissioned by
Tallinna Linnavalitsus
Grete-Loviis Saar
Tõnis Tasane
Irrigation systems
SA & PO Grupp
3D model
Inari Leiman


The landscape architectural project for the interior of the exposition area “The Cloud Forest” of Tallinn Zoo was a challenge for both architects and the client as it was a completely unique object. All parties must be commended for the cooperation. The generation of ideas and feedback was fast and smooth already in the design process, and if any issues occurred during construction and planting, the landscape architects always came on site to discuss the problems. At the moment, however, it seems that the environment appeals to both plants, animals and curious visitors.
Hannes Maripuu, the head gardener of Tallinn Zoo

The landscape architectural project for the interior of the exposition area  was a serious challenge. Within only two months, we needed to familiarise ourselves with the plants of Southeast Asia as well as the needs of the animals inhabiting the designed space.

Luckily, the preliminary design by Ragne Sauman included all the main principles – the location of most cages and the respective visitor routes. The source data also included temperature and humidity indicators (t = 27 °C, r = 75-90%) and the variable height of the building designed by ConArte OÜ. The latter also dictated the character of the planting areas: where to place tall palm trees and where the height should be controlled by crown design.

Since it is not possible to create a real tropical rain forest in such a small area, we tried to pick details that would allow us to tell the visitors about the world’s most diverse ecosystem characterised by amazingly functional cooperation as well as merciless competition.

To introduce various plant groups, the areas are sectioned including, for instance, edible plants such as banana, cardamom and black pepper, a ‘forest’ of tree-line ferns etc. Since tropical trees start to grow their intriguing buttress roots when they are dozens of metres tall, a dead tropical trunk had to be brought in to introduce the adaptation. Thus, in addition to admiring animals, also plant tours may be given.

In cooperation with the zoo, also more comfortable cages and terrariums set in artificial rock were created, however, a crucial role is played by animals freely moving about in the house and thus, in turn, shaping the vegetation. Every project is only as good as the people building and later maintaining it, and in this sense, the Cloud Forest seems to be doing well. Let’s hope the permanent residents will only improve it in time.

Eneli Niinepuu